The United States will give $580 million in additional aid to international organizations to fight Covid-19 in the face of surging Omicron cases, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.
“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant reinforces that we must all continue to accelerate our efforts to end this pandemic and that none of us are safe until all of us are safe,” Blinken said in a statement.
“The world is at a critical point in our global response to this virus.”
Blinken said he was scheduled to hold a meeting later Tuesday with his counterparts from other countries to coordinate the international response to the new variant, which has already become the dominant strain in the United States.
“I call on my counterparts to fulfill and bolster their commitments in fighting the pandemic. We must work together, and we must act quickly,” he said.
The additional funds to seven multilateral agencies bring overall US assistance to $19.6 billion, according to the State Department.
In addition to the 330 million vaccines Washington has given to the rest of the world, the $580 million “is a significant contribution to turn vaccines into vaccinations; strengthen public health capacity; support communities in need, and provide urgent, life-saving relief,” Blinken said.
$280 million of the additional funds will go to the World Health Organization, which is once more at the heart of US health strategy under President Joe Biden, after a break under his predecessor Donald Trump.
UNICEF will receive $170 million to help with its efforts to vaccinate vulnerable populations.
“The United States has sought to galvanize global collective action with our own example and leadership, and it is critical that other governments fulfill their commitments and support those on the frontline of this pandemic,” said Blinken.
His announcement comes hours before a much-anticipated speech from Joe Biden on his government’s response to the Omicron variant.